KATHMANDU, July 4: Nursing institutes across the country found themselves at the receiving end of a scathing criticism on Wednesday after nearly two-thirds nursing graduates vying professional career in nursing failed the license examination.
The results published by Nepal Nursing Council (NNC) show that nearly 65 percent of PCL and BSc nursing students who took part in this year’s license examination failed to obtain the license.
Like doctors and engineers, it is binding for nursing graduates to pass license examinations to be eligible to practice.
The results have sparked a fresh debate over the quality of nursing education with many blaming lax policy and mushrooming institutes for the decline in the quality of nursing education.
Stakeholders say that the result was just a tip of the iceberg of a bigger crisis facing nursing education in Nepal.
“License examination is tougher than the internal exams of nursing institutes. Having said that, it raises serious questions over the quality of education being provided by the nursing institutes,’’ Anjani Kumar Jha, a doctor, said.
Jha, who has over two decades of experience practicing in Nepal’s medical industry, said that the results also point to lack of sincerity on the part of students.
“Many students are forced to pursue nursing because their parents think it provides an easy ticket to Australia or other western countries,’’ said Jha.
Stakeholders say that the nursing institutes by compromising with the quality of education were playing with the lives of students and patients. Despite questionable quality of education and limited practising opportunities, nursing education is considered one of the most expensive fields. It costs between Rs 600,000 to 1 million to complete PCL nursing education in Nepal.
Students opine that there should be complete overhaul in nursing education to increase their competitiveness at home and abroad.
“Students struggle to pass licensing exam because the existing education system hardly prepares us for such a challenging test. Moreover, we hardly get any chance to practice, and this greatly limits our exposure and confidence,’’ Salina Magar, a nursing student at B&B Medical Institute, said.
NNC officials defended the results while acknowledging that there are ‘problems’ in the nursing education system.
“More than 800 students who took part in this year’s exams were old students who were sitting for the second or third times. For some, it was their fifth attempt. I think that too is a reason for the disappointing results,” said Binita Ghimire, registrar at NNC.
The rise in the number of students has fueled huge investments in nursing education in the recent years. There are 92 nursing teaching institutes and 88,000 nurses working in the country, according to NNC.
But the quality of the education has emerged as a big challenge due to cut-throat competition and lack of oversight and supervision by the agencies concerned. More students also mean they are not getting enough time for practice.
“The nursing institutes have failed to provide quality education. Despite marked rise in the number of nursing colleges, students are actually getting very little exposure to medical practice,’’ said Ghimire.